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Friday, November 29, 2013

The Linear Nature of the Signifier; Language as Organised Thought Coupled with Sound; Linguistic value from a conceptual view point (from the view of Signified)

The Linear Nature of the Signifier

The signifier has the following characteristics.

a.     -  It represents a span

b.      -The span is measurable in a single dimension (it is a line)

The arbitrary nature of sign (Principle II) has always been neglected by the linguists due to its over simplicity. However, this concept is a fundamental and its consequences are ineffable. It is equally important as the I principle (sign, signifier & signified). There are visual and auditory signifiers. Their elements are presented in a succession and they form a line. Thus we can talk about the linear nature of a signifier.

In contrast to the visual signifiers which are multidimensional the auditory signifiers are single-dimensional. The only auditory dimension is the dimension of time.

Language as Organised Thought Coupled with Sound

Language has two elements in it. They are ideas and sounds. Thought in itself is shapeless and indistinct. It is universally expected that without the help of the signs we cannot distinguish between two ideas. Thought is vague without language. There are no pre-existing ideas and nothing is distinct without the appearance of language.

When we are comparing between thought and ideas, we find that sound is neither more fixed nor more rigid than thought. Sound is not a mould into which an idea should fit. Language must be seen in its totality (of both thought/idea and sound).

Language can also be compared with a sheet of paper. Thought is the front side and sound is the back side. They are inseparable. One cannot cut the front without cutting the back. In language we can neither divide sound from thought nor thought from sound. When thought is separated from sound, the by-products are pure psychology or pure phonology.

Linguistic value from a conceptual view point (from the view of Signified)

The value of a word is not a simple concept. When we think about the value of a word, its capacity of standing for an idea comes to our mind. This is not complete. What about the synonyms? There can be two words standing for the same idea.


Value of a linguistic term or a word does not mean the idea conveyed by the word. It is different from the signification of the linguistic term. Value is one element of signification, and signification of a linguistic term depends on value.

Signification - it is understood as the counterpart of the sound image. Also, one sign is a counterpart of other signs. Then, it is not possible for value to be the signification of the sound-image alone (because all these elements are counterparts).

Language is a system of interdependent terms in which the value of each term is established from the simultaneous presence of the others (diagram). The value of each sign can be determined by either comparing it with similar terms, or by contrasting it with dissimilar terms.


All kinds of values (even for things outside of language) are governed by the same principle. They are made up of a dissimilar thing that can be exchanged for the thing of which you are trying to find the value of (exchange value, like how you can exchange a cup of coffee for 10 rupees) and a similar thing that can be compared to the thing you are trying to find the value of (like how you can compare 10 rupee with five rupee, or some other form of currency).


 Similarly, a word can be exchanged with something dissimilar (something which is not a word), like an idea AND a word can be compared with something similar (another word) - The value of a word is not fixed if only one of these criteria are met.


Hence, as a part of a system, words have both signification (relationship between concept and sound image) and value (that can be exchanged and compared).


Within a same language, words that express related ideas limit each other reciprocally. This means that when words that convey related ideas or meanings are used, we understand the differences between these words because these words draw limitation for each other. Example, the words happiness, joy and bliss - all represent a related idea. These words also help us understand that happiness is different joy and bliss, and so are the other two different from each other. We understand this difference because we understand the RECIPROCAL limitation put by each word on the others. Value of a word depends on the value of other words.


All these rules apply not only to words, but to larger elements in a particular language too, like grammatical entities.


Preexisting ideas are not found in all systems of languages, but values are. Concepts are defined by their differential relations with other concepts in the system - Understanding one concept by contrasting it with other concepts. The most precise characteristics of concepts are "being what others are not".


He concludes by saying that initially, there is no relation between a signifier and a signified, but this relationship is established only after the value of the concept (signified) is determined by comparing it with other similar values. Without comparing of these similar values, Signification (the relationship between signifier and signified) cannot exist.


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